Nakatsu Heizaburo, the father of Shikoku’s Daito-ryu aiki-jujutsu
Nakatsu Heizaburo was a direct student of both Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda. He was considered by his peers as the most gifted of his group.
Nakatsu Heizaburo (中津平三郎) was born on May 1, 1894 in Ikeda (池田町) in the Tokushima Prefecture on Shikoku Island. He was a direct student of Daito-ryu aiki-jujutsu master Takeda Sokaku, with whom he studied for three years. Nakatsu Sensei is the teacher at the origin of the lineage of Daito-ryu aiki-jujutsu of Shikoku, which is represented today by Chiba Tsugutaka Sensei. During a recent visit to Chiba Sensei’s house accompanied by Olivier Gaurin, Sensei showed us a number of documents that we had never seen. Let’s study those together and look back on Nakatsu Sensei’s life and his place in the history of the Daito-ryu aiki-jujutsu.
During the Taisho era (大正時代 Japanese historical period ranging from 1912 to 1926), Nakatsu Sensei served as a police officer at the Sonezaki Police Station in Osaka. At the beginning of the Showa era (昭和 時代, 1926 to 1989), he was also active as a judo teacher, 5th dan from the Kodokan (dojo of Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo) and a as a competitor recognized throughout Japan. His strongman reputation led to his appointment in 1930 to the security service of the Asahi Journal (朝日新聞社, Asahi Shimbun) in Osaka.
Around 1933, Ueshiba Morihei was summoned by Mitsujiro Ishii, a former minister in the Japanese government and a founder of the Liberal Democratic Party, to strengthen security in Osaka’s Asahi Journal, which had been the target of attacks by lobbyists and right-wing extremists because of an editorial error dating from March 1928 regarding the death of an imperial prince.
The Director of Corporate Affairs in charge of sports activities at the newspaper was Hisa Takuma. Nakatsu, Hisa and a handful of others, began to study the techniques of Daito-ryu aiki-jujutsu from Ueshiba Morihei at the newspaper’s dojo under the leadership of Ishii in 1934. When Ueshiba was absent, some of his students from Tokyo ensured the teaching at the newspaper, particularly Yonekawa Shigemi and Tsutomu Yukawa. After each class, students took advantage of the facilities and photographic material available to replicate the techniques and record them under the form of a large number of photographic plates that today are known as a collection called Soden (総伝). Nakatsu Heizaburo appears as tori from volumes 6 through 9, which contain the advanced teachings of Ueshiba, and Takeda Sokaku’s Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu techniques in their purest form.
Photo from the Soden showing Nakatsu Heizaburo demonstrating a technique
Instruction with Ueshiba Morihei ended in June 1936 with the arrival to Osaka of his own teacher, Sokaku Takeda, who took over the dojo from there on until 1939. Sokaku Takeda announced to the group that given that he had not taught everything to Ueshiba, it would be he who would undertake to complete the training of the Asahi students.
The Asahi Shinbun group around Takeda Sokaku. First row, left to right: Yoshimura Yoshiteru, Takeda Sokaku, Tonedate Masao; second row: unknown, Takeda Tokimune, Nakatsu Heizaburo.
In 1937, Takeda handed Nakatsu and his colleagues the certficate of kyoju dairi (教授代理, representing instructor).
Takeda Sokaku’s registry showing Nakatsu Heizaburo’s name (red square) under the mention “kyoju dairi”
This is the same certificate that Takeda had awarded to Morihei Ueshiba after he had taught his art to him in Ayabe in 1922. According to Takeda Tokimune, the son of Takeda Sokaku, the kyoju dairi certificate was only issued once the student had mastered the 118 shoden basic techniques (equivalent to today’s 5th dan) and the 53 aiki no jutsu techniques (omote and ura), the 36 hiden ogi techniques (omote and ura), the Daito-ryu aiki nito-ryu hiden techniques, and and the 86 goshinyo no te techniques. It therefore represents a very high standard of instruction and at the time he gave it to O Sensei, this certificate was the highest grade to be awarded by Takeda Sokaku.
Formal photograph taken at the Asahi Journal after the awarding of kyoju diairi by Takeda Sokaku
Later, in 1939, Hisa Takuma received the menkyo kaiden certificate (免許皆伝, total transmission) from Takeda Sokaku. Takeda awarded only two of these throughout his entire life (the second was given to Tonedate Masao but evidence suggests that it was a largely honorary reward for his administrative role as part of the Asahi newspaper’s dojo).
Hiden okugi no koto certificate of Nakatsu Heizaburo dating from October 1936
Interestingly, Takeda Tokimune is reported to have said about Nakatsu Heizaburo that he was likely the most proficient of the students of the time.
There was a man named Heizaburo Nakatsu who practiced with Hisa Sensei in those days. According to Tokimune Takeda Sensei he was the most skilled technically among those who practiced at the dojo and was even better than Hisa Sensei.
Mori Hakaru, Director of the Takumakai – AikiNews issue 81, July 1989, p.22
In 1943, following a mild stroke that left him temporarily paraplegic, Nakatsu left the Asahi Journal and returned to live in Ikeda. He established a chiropractic office and taught Daito-ryu to a handful of students, among which were Toshikatsu Imai, Chiba Tsugutaka (read his interview here), Makita Kan’ichi, Onishi Masahito, and Okitsu Hirofumi.
Nakatsu Heizaburo surrounded by his students. Chiba Tsugutaka is at the second row on the right.
Subsequently, many students of Hisa Takuma regularly traveled from Osaka to learn the Shikoku techniques and both groups retained close ties. Nakatsu Heizaburo was awarded the 6th dan by the Kodokan in Nuanuary 1960. He died in December of the same year, at the age of 66. In 1975, the two study groups decided to come together to formalize the transmission of the techniques taught by Hisa Takuma and Nakatsu Heizaburo, and Chiba Tsugutaka proposed to call the group the Takumakai (琢磨会, gathering for Takuma). Today, practitioners of Shikoku and Osaka still meet twice a year in Wakimachi (Mima prefecture in Shikoku) around Chiba Sensei Tsugutaka during courses to learn the techniques of Shikoku (read a report of that seminar).
Chiba Tsugutaka and Onishi Masahito, the heirs of Nakatsu Heizaburo’s teaching
For more information on Shikoku’s Daito-ryu aiki-jujtsu, visit the website of the Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Shikoku Hombu Dojo.